5 Observations about Wild, Unpredictable UIL State Championship Weekend

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Photo: Gordon Deloach/TexasHSFootball

Last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday’s state championship  rounds had everything a fan could want — 60s and 70s era football, controversy, drama, Herculean performances and even bigger upsets and record-setting wins.

There also exists several stark realizations in the wake of the wins and losses. For some an era of success may take a different turn, for others new legacies were built and still others will rush to stock their coffers to either reinvent themselves with new personnel or rebuild with all the urgency of a high school offseason.

1. Cy-Fair’s history is Waco Midway’s misery

The Bobcats made history with their 51-31 dismantling of Waco Midway High School — a finish where the final margin of victory was much further than the score indicated at game’s end.

Not only did Cy-Fair High School, the oldest ISD in the Houston area and the only not to grasp the golden ring claim its first title, it won a game in which it was a heavy underdog. They did it facing Oklahoma hard commit Tanner Mordecai, who legendarily slung rain-soaked footballs with Tom-Brady-like accuracy a week earlier against Longview.

They did it with an game plan and style reminiscent of the early days of football — run early, often, and hard and hit harder, cause turnovers, and win the time of possession and special teams battles. They did that and more, forcing and recovering four fumbles, scoring on one via Kyle Bell’s recovery in the end zone.

They also flashed special teams magic after Chase Davidson’s 47-yard kickoff return.

Attrition will remove quarterback Cam Arnold, running back Trenton Kennedy, linebackers Patrick Atkinson and Jace Bobo, and 39 other seniors, but the Bobcats may have a better-than-average chance with a new core of junior, sophomore, and freshman players that received invaluable grooming on high school football’s highest stage.

The graduation bug will strike Midway, too, as Mordecai, Matthew Barnhill, and 38 other seniors will take their first steps on post-high school road in little more than six months.

2. Girl power sets precedent, too

Sherry Milliken/TexasHSFootball

The path has been reasonably open for women to play football — regardless of perceptions about size and strength of the fairer gender — for some time but whether intentionally or unintentionally, K-Lani Nava literally kicked the door to high school football for little girls throughout the nation off the hinges.

Armed with an octuplet of point after attempts and a diamond-encrusted ring en route to Strawn High School courtesy of Balfour and the UIL, Nava has become a pioneer and the gold standard of what a woman can be in anything primarily male dominated.

If more women begin to creep onto roster and nailing 30, 40, or 50-yard bombs to decide prep games, don’t say I didn’t tell you.

3. Danny Luttmer is the truth

Sherry Milliken/TexasHSFootball

The main thing to remember about two-way athlete Danny Luttmer is that the 2017 season — one he led Muenster High School with 598 yards receiving and scored 10 touchdowns and had 97 and one in the state championship win against Tenaha  — was only his sophomore year.

That’s right, he has two more years of varsity eligibility.

His junior quarterback, who threw for more than 2,700 yards this season, has some time left before he departs Muenster, too.

4. Behind Jase McClellan, Aledo is tooled to make another state championship run

Joseph Nguyen/TexasHSFootball

If you haven’t been properly introduced to Jase McClellan, Aledo High School’s 5-foot-10 and 170-pound sophomore feature back, put your big-boy pants on for this one.

In only his second year of varsity football, McClellan ran for 1,458 yards and added 84 via air mail from sophomore quarterback Jake Bishop (2,185 yards, 27 TDs). The near 6-foot bruising back should crack the 3,000-yard career mark in his junior year and possibly the 6,000-yard barrier as a senior.

The Bearcats also have second leading receiver Monterren Parks (383 yards, 5 TDs) in the class of 2020, as well as punishing hitter and third-leading tackler Colt Ellison (85 tackles) returning for his senior season. The 6-foot-3 and 231-pound defensive end also had 12 1/2 sacks as a junior and 22 1/2 during his two-year varsity career.

5. So is Lake Travis — and maybe multiple

Junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson snags circus catch during the first half of the 6A Division I state championship. Gordon DeLoach/TexasHSFootball

The first quarter injury to Ohio State pledge Matthew Baldwin was gruesome, unfortunate, and state championship-changing.

Lake Travis sophomore quarterback Hudson Card was at times a magician — escaping furious Allen rushes and finding wideouts with peerless accuracy on the run. Gordon DeLoach/TexasHSFootball

The silver lining, however, were the performances of junior Garrett Wilson and sophomore Hudson Card — a quarterback Baldwin said has the opportunity to be the best in Lake Travis history.

Yeah, you heard that right. The best in Lake Travis history.

Remember Baker Mayfield is a Heisman Trophy winner and is still playing for a national championship.

Once you get past the three costly interception you can delve into the the meat of Baldwin’s theory — that a sophomore led the Cavaliers back from a 21-point deficit, dropping a handful of collegiate-level dimes into the hands of his receivers and accounted for more than 200 total yards passing and rushing.

Both he and Wilson should return next year with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths and more experienced leaders of a team led by Hank Carter — one of the most successful coaches in modern high school football — with the reigns of the most successful program in prep sports in the past decade.


Marcus Matthews-Marion is the managing editor of TexasHSFootball, covering prep football throughout the Lone Star State. Follow him on Twitter, @TheMJMatthews, and read more of his content here.

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